A Season of Celebration
“Sell the farm, mortgage the children, cancel the cruise. Do what you have to do to get to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s concerts this weekend.” So wrote Scott Cantrell in the Dallas Morning News in February 2006 about Jaap van Zweden’s debut with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Since that first downbeat, van Zweden and the DSO have performed together with great excitement and passion. The 2017/18 Farewell Celebration Season honors this extraordinary ten-year partnership and spotlights the strength, flexibility and sheer artistic excellence of the ensemble and its leader.
Throughout his tenure, Music Director van Zweden has taken the orchestra on a journey of repertoire focusing on many styles from intimate performances of Mozart and Bach to the grandeur of Brahms and Bruckner.
“I think the orchestra has changed a lot, and I’ve changed a lot,” said van Zweden. “The whole orchestra has come a long way in being able to play all different styles. This is one of the things I admire most about this orchestra. They can play in any style of music.”
Performances this year will show off that range and will highlight composers and works for which the DSO and van Zweden have become known. Works by Mahler, Bruckner and Beethoven are complemented by performances of Duruflé’s Requiem, Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony and Schumann’s Third Symphony.
“I wanted to have some pieces come back from the first season, so it’s a beginning and a closure at the same time,” said van Zweden.
The first concert of the year indeed represents a snapshot of van Zweden’s beginnings with the DSO. He will lead performances of Mahler’s virtuosic Fifth Symphony – the piece he performed at his very first concert as Music Director - and “Elegy” from August 4, 1964, by Steven Stucky. The Stucky oratorio was a Dallas Symphony commission with the world premiere in Dallas on September 18, 2008, and a performance at Carnegie Hall on May 11, 2011. The DSO recorded the work on its own label, and Stucky won a GRAMMY® Award for the composition.
Van Zweden has become known for his thoughtful and dramatic performances of Wagner. He is currently embarking on a recording of the full Ring Cycle with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and he has led the DSO in dazzling performances of selections from the operas. The April 15, 2016, concert of Act I from Die Walküre was called “the most electrifying performance I’ve witnessed in Dallas in 16 years” by Scott Cantrell.
In May, Dallas audiences will get a rare treat when the DSO performs Wagner’s Die Walküre in its entirety. With a cast including some of the most celebrated singers today – Michelle DeYoung, Matthias Goerne, Heidi Melton, Christa Mayer and Simon O’Neill – these two concerts are sure to be a highlight of the season.
The Farewell Celebration Season will conclude with joyful performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Always a favorite in Dallas, the stunning symphony rounds out the concert season and provides the perfect send off for van Zweden’s decade of leadership.
But even after the final downbeat, the partnership will continue. Van Zweden will remain as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Conductor Laureate through the 20/21 season, providing a bridge from the growth and triumph of his tenure to the bright future and continued artistic excellence that is sure to come.